POLICE officers all over the world, Zambia included are entrusted with maintaining law and order, and as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility.
As community role models, trustworthiness and honesty are some of the most important qualities police officers should have to effectively discharge their duties.
Since most of their time is spent in the public eye, they are expected to maintain professional behavior, not the kind Zambians have recently been exposed to where two officers have died within two weeks through suicide.
In short, Police accountability is extremely decisive as it implicates holding both individual police officers, as well as law enforcement agencies responsible for efficiently delivering basic services of crime control and maintaining order, while treating individuals objectively and within the bounds of law.
This is what Kitwe district commissioner Binwell Mpundu could be looking to police for to help fight rising number of criminal gangs in his town.
Mpundu says it is disastrous that the number of criminal gangs in the city has snowballed despite all the efforts by the local authorities to purge them.
Mr. Mpundu says that this worrying situation has come after the residents of Miseshi, D-Sections and Mindolo townships reported the presence of two more gang groups that call themselves the ‘Unruly’ and the ‘Sokota’ besides the already existing five other groups.
He then met with the community to discuss security concerns and bring out board members of the community to be part of the people working on eliminating crime in the area. The situation is certainly that dire.
Even with this appeal by Mr Mpundu for the community to get involved in fighting crime, we strongly feel the buck as always stops at our police who appear to be terribly lagging behind the tactics and styles of criminals in Zambia.
This cannot be allowed to go on , not only in Kitwe but generally in all towns and cities in Zambia which now appear to be under total control of criminal gangs, such as the Junkies, ‘fluffies’, and now the ‘Unruly’, Sokota and many others.
We think holding police accountable is important for maintaining the public’s “faith in the system” because once that is lost then the situation is thrown into a state of complete confusion and disorder.
The pure fact is that police, like any other public body, business or individual owe a duty of care to members of the public.
We will be the first ones to admit however that like in any career, there will always be some police officers who are much better at their jobs and others who should not be wearing that uniform at all.
We are also aware that in law enforcement being good at your job can mean life and death for you or for someone else.
While Police officers have an important role in the community—to keep the community safe, being a police officer is truly the most stressful job in any city.”
Police training and education helps police officers develop the tools they need to thrive in the job, but truly great cops have more than just solid training in their corner.
A police officer’s area of jurisdiction and specialization can have a huge impact on the technical skills and knowledge they need in fighting crime.
But Mr Mpundu may have a point when he says it not fair for the residents to be experiencing burglaries as well as harassments at the hands of criminals who he said have kept the residents under siege.
More importantly, was the decision by the local authority to involve young people in the affected communities by way of forming neighbourhood watch groups to help police bring these criminals to book.
That is probably one of the most workable ways to help eradicate these self-styled criminal gangs because after all police officers are also members of the community and that the community is part of the police hence the need to work hand in hand in fighting criminals.
Mr. Mpundu is also right to declare said that members of the community know who these criminals are but are stiff scared to disclose their identities to police who they run to when attacked.
True, residents should never cry foul if they do not do their noble duty of disclosing information about the gangs to the security wings.
Shockingly though, Kitwe alone is now terrorized by 7 gang groups namely the Tokota boys, the SODs, the 90 Niggas, the Mbwa Mbwa Mbwa, the 100s, the Sokota boys and the Unruly.